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Friday, March 07, 2008

Grave Apparel

****½ Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum. Mystery.

This is the fifth--and most recent--book in the Crimes of Fashion series about D. C. fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian.

Eye Street Observer editorial columnist Cassandra Wentworth and food editor Felicity Pickles are feuding over Christmas sweaters (tacky or not?) and Lacey Smithsonian is caught in the middle. Then at the newspaper's Christmas party, Cassandra, wearing Felicity's gaudiest sweater, is attacked by a man in a Santa hat wielding a giant candy cane, and a kid finds her and summons Lacey to help.

Now the reluctant sleuth is embroiled in finding the attacker, and her only witness is a young child who's even more reluctant than Lacey to get involved. And of course, things aren't nearly quite as simple as they might seem. The police are convinced the kid is the culprit and aren't looking any further, so it's up to Lacey to protect the kid from the police and the attacker and solve the crime.

It's an engaging story, but it's not the plot so much as the characters that make this story--and the series--worth reading.

Although Lacey's a fashion columnist, this is D. C., so it's not exactly high fashion--it's more ordinary-people-accessible fashion, and I can deal with that. Plus, there's Lacey's entertaining sense of style, most of which is vintage, from her Aunt Mimi's trunk. The newsroom family feels very real, particularly in this one, with the squabbles, and everyone begging Lacey to put an end to the feud so Felicity will end her baking strike.

Just a thoroughly entertaining cozy mystery, like the rest of the series. I'm looking forward to Armed and Glamorous in July.

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